Chuck Rohe down but not out

Marvin Westwestwords

Charles Henry “Chuck” Rohe, 85, multi-talented living legend, has been entertaining the staff at a hospital near his home in Windermere, Florida.

Chuck was finishing a seven-mile bicycle ride when he encountered loose gravel at the turn into his driveway. He took a terrible spill, suffered three broken ribs and badly bruised one side of his body. He wants all concerned to know he did not bump his head.

Quotes were predictable.

“What a day!” is his trademark for life.

After that comes “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

The former Tennessee coach has long been my poster person for the power of positive thinking. He was a great recruiter, a terrific traveling salesman in the Doug Dickey era. Maybe names like Richmond Flowers and Chip Kell ring a bell.

Chuck wasn’t bad as a track coach. Between 1962 and 1971, his teams won 21 Southeastern Conference championships – indoor, outdoor and cross-country. He forced the league to get serious about track or suffer lasting embarrassment.

Rohe wrestled Bob Woodruff over necessary funds to compete nationally and over such traumatic distractions as javelin thrower Bill Skinner’s mustache. Chuck went along when Charley Coffey became football coach at Virginia Tech. Rohe was the Hokies’ athletic director in waiting.

Coffey didn’t win enough games and Rohe’s wait ended abruptly. He became part-owner and general manager of the Houston Texans in the World Football League. He became vice president of Pace Management and promoted exotic sports and entertainment events. For 20 years he was executive director of the Florida Citrus Bowl.

He remains national director of Nike Coach of the Year football clinics. John Majors is a partner.

Richmond Flowers once delivered a stirring summation of what set Chuck Rohe apart from the competition: “It was his incredible work ethic, his enthusiasm and creativity.”

Richmond thought about what he had said and added: “It was his integrity.”

Unusual contract: The National Pro Fast-Pitch League has a salary cap for talent. Ex-Vol Monica Abbott is softball talent personified, a left-handed pitcher who blows away batters.

Monica plays for the Houston-area Scrap Yard Dawgs. She has what is advertised as a million-dollar contract. That amount is to be spread over six years. Her base pay is $20,000, like a lot of others. She gets a friendly little bonus of $20,000 every time her team plays in front of at least 100 fans – home or away, whether or not she pitches. All games just happen to meet that requirement, thanks to relatives and close friends.

The three-month season leaves Monica time to pitch in Japan – and supplement her income.

McCleskey: At least some of the passionate thousands of Tennessee football fans know the story of Thomas “J.J.” McCleskey. He was a walk-on from Karns who grew up to be a Volunteer captain. He was an undrafted free agent who defied the odds and stayed eight years in the NFL.

Of course, son Jalen wanted to be a football player. Of course, he wanted to be a Vol.

J.J. says Jalen was a little too small in his freshman fall of 2011 – a wet tee-shirt short of 85 pounds and just over five feet tall. By the time he was a Louisiana high school senior, Jalen was 5-10 and 170. Tennessee recruiters knew all about him and had his cell phone number but …

Jalen went to Oklahoma State. Last season he caught 73 passes for 812 yards.

From then to now: Tennessee has a commitment from four-star running back Lyn-J Dixon of Butler, Ga. He is 5-10 and 178, swift afoot and the No. 6 all-purpose back in the high school world. That may mean he is an Alvin Kamara type who can run inside or outside and catch anything within reach.

Dixon’s pledge of allegiance generated considerable excitement but created a question. He says he is 100 per cent committed to Tennessee but he may visit Clemson or Alabama or South Carolina or maybe Florida.

He did not say what commitment means.

Marvin West invites reader reaction. His address is

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